2011 Kia Optima: Up Close

Wow. This is an impressive-looking car. With its creased sheet metal and low-slung shape, there's a luxury-car sophistication to the exterior of the Optima that you don't see in a lot of family sedans. Its rear quarter is one of its best angles, and despite its low roofline the interior headroom doesn't suffer.

Even though I like the overall shape of the Optima, I'm not a huge fan of the black mesh grille — it seems more pronounced than it needs to be. Unlike on the automaker's new Sorento crossover, the grille isn't broken up by a badge, which is instead positioned just above the grille.

The Optima is big inside, too. Even with the driver's seat moved all the way back, which is further than I'd position it when driving (the power seats in the show car weren't active), backseat legroom was still OK, though my knees were close to the back of the front seat.

Interior quality is good overall, with the model on the show floor featuring details like stitching on the dashboard that just a few years ago were being trumpeted by luxury automakers in their new products. Kia didn't even highlight it in its presentation.

The steering wheel has a nice feel, and the Optima on the show floor had massive paddle shifters. It's nice to see that the high-grade elements such as real stitching and upscale materials carry over to the rear of the cabin, which is where you sometimes see interior quality drop off a little.


I'm not a big fan of Kia cars however, I really like this Optima.

The grills at the front are a little over the top although I like agressive looking cars.


What about the huge pieces of hard plastic in the back of the front seats? Some knee hammers, huh?
And the rear seat looks too short to be comfortable for an adult.
Big bump in the middle floor of the rear seat, is it necessary in the FWD car? Camry got rid of it long ago.
Also, I suspect bad rear visibility.
Are the side mirrors folding? Koreans sometimes forget to make them folding.


This car is a home run design inside and out. This is what all automakers should strive for no matter what level or price range. Well done Kia.


With Hyundai / Kia’s finally arrived at high quality / durability all that was missing was the ability to dress their engineering in a beautiful body and furnish it with a disirable interior. Peter’s designs are bold and distintive. Not sure what to make of the bottle opener grill though.

Most European/Japanese brands have their established design framwork so designers can only work within that framework.

But at Kia, Peter Schryer is not restricted to such thing at all. In fact, he is the one who has to create such framework so that the company can follow it at least for the next couple of decades.

As a designer, this is an opportunity to truly create something without having to follow somebody else’s work. Who would want to miss that opportunity? I think that’s why perter has decided to sign up with Kia.


I like this better than the Sonata. I'm still waiting for some head-on shots of the instruments.


Look how high the beltline is...

Like its sister car, the Sonata, the best angle is the rear 3/4.

Derrick G


I imagine this is the SX, but look here:



This car's sexy. For the first time, KIA made an emotional response from me with this car. Wish it was already out.


Nice car. You can def tell they hired Audi's former designer, especially in the taillights/rear view.

Ken L.

If I didn't know what Kia was, I'd said this car competes with Acura's TL and Lexus' ES. But since I do know, I certainly would not be ashamed of being seen in this car nor the Sorento or Hyundai's Genesis, new Sonata or Tuscon. However, I can't say that about the rest of their lineup. Since the name "Hyundai" is probably as common to most of us as Honda and Toyota. The original Kia plan could be scrapped in favor of something more Luxurious. I predict that the Optima will sell well based on desire and warranty alone. I only wished it came out last summer before I bought my new car.


Great looking car with style that really stands out, and with an affordable price too. Kia has a winner.


would luv 2 c an LX model 2 c the differences! btw, my 2006 Rio has folding mirrors so i'll assume this does 2?!

Derrick G

The mirror in this high-res shot, which I again imagine is a top-of-the-line SX, clearly shows a pivot point. Lower versions might have fixed ones. Can't say for sure.



The overall look stands out but the grille and wheels are ugly. That said, I would buy this before buying an Accord or Camry. With a few adjustments it could genuinely be an attractive car but the 6 and Fusion look more cohesive to me.


This car smokes the 6, and I think many people will find the styling to be more daring than the style of the Fusion, and more attractive.


My design.


Its a pleasant experience to see our own design come true.... I am the Person who designed its door...

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